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Wisdom of the Body

Jan 7, 2022

Listen to Erika Kimball, a visionary former practicing nurse who was once horrified by the amount of garbage at the end of her shift, describe to Heather how she changed careers to reduce healthcare’s environmental impact. Erika discusses the basic challenges of sustainability and environmentalism in healthcare, which in the US is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gases and is a huge contributor to plastics in the environment. She also addresses the importance of maintaining optimism as really smart people work to improve the system. 

In this episode, Heather and Erika discuss: 

  • Healthcare industry is responsible for 10% of US greenhouse gases.  
  • Healthcare generates 5.9 million tons of waste per year and 25% of that is plastic 
  • Healthcare system uses 2.5 times the energy of a commensurate commercial building because of all the technology. 
  • Why if we can get it right in healthcare, it will pave the way for other industries 
  • The majority of materials used in a hospital setting are single-use plastics. 
  • The environmental challenge we have with buying supplements and herbs from overseas, including a lack of sustainable packaging 
  • Why the goal is to have healthy materials, used in optimal amounts, and processed in ways that benefit the environment at end of life 
  • How to improve sustainability in healthcare without driving up costs 
  • Conservation in healthcare. For example, how to we waste less and how do we take better care of our things. 
  • Implementing circular economy principles in healthcare 
  • How today the healthcare system is contributing to breaks in biological cycles 
  • The rise of green chemistry – and how that could produce healthier materials for healthcare 
  • The big problem of single-use plastics in healthcare 
  • Some of the sustainable policies and practices that are being implemented now in healthcare practices and hospitals 
  • How hospitals and doctors and healthcare workers get involved in climate action 
  • Why the social determinants of health are environmental determinants of health 
  • How do we operate in a way that supports those health goals 
  • Why sustainability in healthcare, like COVID, is an all-hands-on-deck moment 
  • The biggest change that the healthcare system could implement that would make a dramatic effect on the environment 


Erika Kimball is a sustainability leader who works to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare. She advises hospitals and healthcare companies on sustainability and climate action, healthy materials, circular economy principles, and sustainable policy and practices. A nurse by training, Erika takes a holistic approach to healthcare change management, building the systems, relationships, and capacity to achieve better environmental outcomes.  

Heather Grzych is the author of The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility and the host of the Wisdom of the Body podcast. A board-certified Ayurvedic practitioner, she teaches the Regenerative Fertility Method to support future generations worldwide. Heather is on the board of directors for the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) and has consulted with doctors, governments, and insurance companies. She offers virtual consultations and programs worldwide.  

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This podcast is for educational and entertainment purposes only.